Alex Kirilloff may have gotten his 2019 campaign started a month late, but the young star is already looking like he's in midseason form.Baseball's No. 8 overall prospect tripled and drove in two runs as part of his first three-hit game of the season, helping to lead Double-A Pensacola to
Alex Kirilloff may have gotten his 2019 campaign started a month late, but the young star is already looking like he's in midseason form.
Baseball's No. 8 overall prospect tripled and drove in two runs as part of his first three-hit game of the season, helping to lead Double-A Pensacola to a 6-3 win at Mississippi on Monday.
"I'm just happy that my wrist is healed again and that I'm able to play and help the team win ballgames," Kirilloff said. "I'm getting back into the routine of playing every day and being able to do that healthy is fun for me. I'm just trying each and every day to make the most of it."
The 2016 15th overall pick flew out to right field in his first trip to the plate, then broke through by lacing an RBI triple to left with two outs in the third. Following a leadoff single to left in the sixth, Kirilloff drove home another run with a single to left-center in the seventh. Minnesota's No. 2 prospect grounded out to third base in the ninth.
"I think they were trying to work me in a little bit," he said. "Some of the guys they had were just leaving some balls arm-side, so I was able to take advantage of it, put some good swings on some fastballs."
After going hitless in his first appearance of the season on May 2, Kirilloff's bat started to come around with four hits over his next three games heading into Monday night. The three-hit showing at Mississippi lifted his slash line to .389/.522/.556 after five contests.
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Kirilloff missed all of April with a wrist injury he suffered in Spring Training before being activated off the injured list last week. While mindful of the injury, the 21-year-old feels confident he's 100 percent.
"I've just got to continue to strengthen it every day really," he said. "It takes a little bit more time to warm it up and get it going than usual. Other than that, mentally I've just got to be able to trust it again on tough pitches inside or pitches outside. Just being able to mentally tell yourself and your body that your wrist is completely fine again is another step to take as well. I'm just trying to check all those boxes and keep moving forward from it.
"The fact that I wasn't too, too far removed from Spring Training and that type of buildup, being able to get into some extended spring training games as well before I was completely cleared helped. That was important, but for me it's all about adjustments and being aware of what I need to do each pitch, each at-bat. Usually that's what I'm most focused on, regardless of the result."
Last year's MiLB.com Breakout Prospect of the Year put together a .348/.392/.578 slash line in 130 games between Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Fort Myers. He led the Minors with 44 doubles and 71 extra-base hits and finished second to Albuquerque's Josh Fuentes with 178 hits for the year. The Rockies No. 10 prospect amassed 180.
Monday night marked the third straight game for Kirilloff at first base defensively. The Pittsburgh native has played all three outfield positions in his professional career, but hadn't taken the infield until two days ago.
"I'm happy anywhere I can help the team really," he said. "Wherever it gets me in the lineup, I'm happy with it. I enjoy playing first. I played there a lot growing up, and I've grown accustomed to right field in pro ball as well. I'm happy wherever they need me, and I'm going to work hard defensively to improve wherever I am."
For now, getting into the flow of a season again, Kirilloff is set on finding a comfortable routine he can stick with at Double-A.
"Just continue to be able to consistently focus on each pitch, each at-bat, each play," he said. "Mentally, it's such a long year. Once you're done with that year, you kind of lose focus because you're not playing every day, but just the level of intensity and focus that it takes throughout the whole entire game to sustain, that is something that I'm still working on. Hopefully in the coming games, it continues to improve."
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.